Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata)

This species has cheek pouches to carry food in while it forages. The average body mass for an adult male Japanese macaque is around 12 kilograms, and for the females it is around 10 kilograms. The pelage varies in color from brown to white. There is no hair on the face and it becomes red during adulthood. This species has a relatively short tail.

The Japanese macaque is found in the country of Japan. They range from the subtropical lowlands to the subalpine regions of Japan.
Japanese Macaque

Japanese Macaque (Macaques foraging) ECOLOGY:
The Japanese macaque consumes fruit, leaves, berries, seeds, small animals, insects, and cultivated crops, and during the winter when there is a large amount of snow they forage heavily on bark. This is a diurnal species. During the winter the Japanese macaque will conserve heat by sunning itself during the day and also will move less frequently (Suzuki, 1965). They also will sleep in deciduous trees because conifers have snow that could fall on top of them reducing their heat level (Suzuki, 1965).

The Japanese macaque is a quadrupedal species (Fleagle, 1988).

The Japanese macaque has a multimale-multifemale social system. Females remain in their natal group with the onset of maturity, but males will disperse shortly before adolescence. There is a hierarchical system amongst group members based upon the matriline. One female Japanese macaque named Imo invented how to wash sweet potatoes in a brook and to separate wheat from sand by throwing the mixture into a brook, letting the sand sink to the bottom, and scooping up the wheat that is floating at the surface (Nishida, 1987). This knowledge was passed on to other members of the troop, where playmates of Imo learnt the behavior first, then mothers would pass it on to their offspring (Nishida, 1987). Ths shows an example of culture in nonhuman primates.
Japanese Macaque

scream calls: This call is given by the Japanese macaque when they are approached by a non-group conspecific.

coo: Infants give this vocalization when they want contact from the mother, and females give this when they are receptive to copulations.


fear grimace: The lips are retracted so that the teeth are shown; the teeth are clenched together (Estes, 1991). This display functions as an appeasement signal to reduce aggression in aggressive encounters (Estes, 1991).

staring with open mouth: This is the stare accompanied by the mouth being open but the teeth are covered (Estes, 1991). This is a threat expression (Estes, 1991).

social grooming: This is where one individual grooms another. This is important in maintaining social bonds between individuals.

The Japanese macaque gives birth to a single offspring. During estrus in younger females the perineum swells and in older females the perineum becomes red and the face also reddens (Hrdy and Whitten, 1987).
Japanese Macaque (social grooming)

Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Estes, R.D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. University of California Press.

Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Hrdy, S.B. and Whitten, P.L. 1987. Patterning of Sexual Activity. In Primate Societies, eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

Nishida, T. 1987. Local Traditions and Cultural Transmission. In Primate Societies, eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

Suzuki, A. 1965. An Ecological Study of Wild Japanese Monkeys in Snowy Areas, Focused on Their Food Habits. Primates, Vol. 6, 31-72.

Japanese Macaque

Last Updated: June 14, 2007.
[The Primata] [Primate Evolution] [Primate Taxonomy] [Primate Conservation] [Primate Fact Sheets] [Primate Definitions] [Primate Store] [Macaca Links]